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O'Day Feels Montana is Fortunate to Land No. 4 Seed
Jim O’Day didn’t use his position on the NCAA’s 10-member Football Championship Subdivision playoff selection committee to send a seed the Montana Grizzlies’ way.
Not that he would, but it wasn’t possible anyway.
“It’s an interesting process,” said O’Day, Montana’s athletic director, while waiting for a connecting flight in Minneapolis. “If you have a dog in the hunt, you don’t get involved in the (seeding) process. For that reason I think Montana is fortunate to land the No. 4 seed.”
The Grizzlies, 11-1 and ranked fifth by the Sports Network, learned Sunday they’ll play host to No. 22 Texas State Saturday at 12:05 p.m. Mountain time inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. They’re on the same side of the bracket as No. 1 seed (and top-ranked) James Madison.
Also on the Grizzlies’ side, with the winner of their first-round game awaiting a possible quarterfinal matchup, are No. 12 Weber State and No. 3 Cal Poly.
The Wildcats, who earned the Big Sky Conference’s automatic bid into the playoffs, were apparently fooled by ESPNU’s selection show into thinking they were hosting Cal Poly, by the way the pairing was shown (Mustangs on top, Wildcats on bottom).
“It said we had a home game, so we were really fired up,” coach Ron McBride said in a Weber State release. “Then we got the news it was an error, so that was kind of a letdown.”
It was also a sign that money, at least in part, makes the FCS playoff grid go round.
“Everybody’s getting much more competitive in the bidding process for home games,” O’Day noted. “Cal Poly made a very aggressive bid.”
The Mustangs, like the Wildcats, could’ve been seeded themselves, and apparently both drew plenty of interest.
Weber State owns a 45-28 win over the Griz - their only loss - and the Griz own a 30-28 win over Cal Poly, which could’ve won that game and should’ve beat Wisconsin Saturday but for some shortcomings in the kicking game. Weber hurt its chances with a 33-26 home loss to Eastern Washington Saturday.
“We all had opportunities to visit about that,” O’Day said of the possible seeds, which included Northern Iowa (No. 3) along with UM, Cal Poly, Weber, Villanova and Richmond.
“Then you start looking geographically at where you can put people and where maybe you can bus teams in these economic times. The win over Cal Poly was significant. Especially being on the road.”
The good news is UM is a seed and Weber State and Cal Poly are in.
“It’s a cool thing to see two other teams that we’ve played this year are highly ranked,” said UM guard Colin Dow. “It’s a testament to the kind of football we play out here in the West.”
The bad news is the Griz, Wildcats and Mustangs are all bunched together, along with Texas State.
“I don’t know how those all get set up, I don’t sit in on those meetings,” Griz coach Bobby Hauck said. “I’m sure economics played into that decision.
“But both of those teams are a lot better than probably a majority of the teams in the field. It’s a little bit too bad that they’re playing each other in the first round.”